Back to Work, Writers!


Yes, writing is work. Though sometimes in the thrill of inspiration the process can be an amusement park of experiences, more often it is frustration, drudgery and stress. Over the years I’ve found that most of my clients for story consultation are looking for a silver bullet – some sort of creative elixir that throws open the floodgates of inspiration so that ideas just spill out all over their stories. And when they discover that while I can provide techniques to get their Muse in gear and insights to keep them on a good story development course, they are disappointed – no, perhaps “deflated” is a better word. Getting them over that hump and down to the serious business of writing is always the first priority. Quite honestly, some of them can’t make that climb – the hill is just too high. So, they turn away from that path and instead spend hundreds and often thousand of dollars on every patent medicine every snake oil story guru has to offer. Now to be sure, most teachers of story aren’t charlatans. And most aren’t gurus either. Rather, each has found some small “t” truth that works for them and they offer it up to any others it might help. But one size never fits all, so whatever one is hawking, there’s only a percentage of the flock who need your particular brand of wool curler. There is a big “T” truth out there to be sure, but as zen would have it, the tao that can be spoken is not the Eternal Tao – meaning that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. In other words, either it is teachable or it is Truth. So as you go back to work, you writers, you, consider that there is no single source for enlightenment, no special knowledge that turns work into play, and no silver bullet that severs the ties that bind better than a healthy amount of mental elbow grease to ease the friction of untying the damn thing.

Melanie Anne Phillips